WSU Vancouver shares campus with STEM high school

Outside the Clark College Building on the WSU Vancouver campus, high school students can be seen getting on and off yellow school buses throughout the day. These students resemble a tour group but in fact they are ninth graders enrolled at Itech Preparatory School in its first year on the Vancouver campus.

Itech Preparatory School, or Itech Prep, is currently small, with only 75 students enrolled. Enrolled students are in the sixth, seventh and ninth grades, with other grades to be added in the future. At WSU Vancouver, the ninth graders use the Clark College Building while the sixth and seventh graders attend school at the Jim Parsley Center in Vancouver. According to the Itech Prep website, students apply for admission and are selected from every school in the Vancouver school district. Explore the Itech Prep website for more information.

Itech Prep is STEM focused; the school emphasizes science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Itech Prep does not prepare students for one particular career, but rather students can choose to pursue many careers in the STEM fields using their education from Itech Prep. According to the Itech website, the most common career pursuit is engineering.

Itech Prep Principal, Christina Iremonger, speaks to the unique structure of Itech Prep. Iremonger says that classes at Itech Prep are structured much differently than in other local schools. According to Iremonger, classes start later and end later at Itech Prep than at the high schools in the area. Students take eight classes per semester plus an “advocacy” course. Iremonger also states that students at Itech Prep are required to have taken 32 credits to graduate, substantially more than required by most high schools.

Students have an ‘advocacy’ class period each day for teachers to help students with projects and other class work. This class period allows for one-on-one assistance and interaction between students and teachers, Iremonger said.

According to Jacob Skimas, Itech Prep student body president, teachers at Itech emphasize project-based learning. Skimas says that rather than a teacher primarily lecturing straight from the text or using PowerPoint, students are assigned different topics or questions they must research. After students research their topics or questions they are required to present to their classes.

“My English teacher formats her homework like a video game. It is like you have to go on quests to earn xp [experience points]. The more xp you have the higher your grade is,” Jacob Skimas said.

Project-based learning and other out-of-the-box teaching methods are quite useful with students who otherwise might not be as engaged in traditional coursework, Skimas mentioned.

For interested WSU Vancouver student, there are many ways to get involved. Iremonger welcomes WSU Vancouver students to be involved in Itech student lives by giving advice about college and STEM careers.  WSU Vancouver students are invited to help mentor and tutor these young scholars. For more information about mentoring and tutoring, contact the main Itech office at 360-313-5200.

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